The latest quarterly (July - September 2017) InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Report paints a picture of a buoyant economy with 39 percent of businesses in growth mode and a further 57 per cent in a stable position.
- 96 per cent of businesses across the island are stable or growing
- Half of cross-border traders experiencing growth compared to 36 per cent of traders only doing business in own jurisdiction
- Employment remained static and has not kept pace with growth figures
- 95 per cent of businesses don’t have a plan for Brexit
Companies trading cross-border are faring particularly well, with 50 percent enjoying growth. Growth is not however translating into a similar upsurge in employment with only 7 percent of companies reporting that employment levels have increased over the past quarter.
The reluctance to take on new staff against the positive market background chimes with the findings that despite sectoral differences 89 per cent of businesses overall are close to or at full capacity.
While this may signal a welcome improvement in productivity performance it may also reflect an increasing number of businesses reporting difficulties in recruiting appropriate skills. Cost increases in overheads and through the supply chain are also major challenges that firms are facing. The fact that only 95 percent of businesses are still not actually planning for Brexit remains a real concern particularly as 22 percent overall and 41 percent of cross border traders say it will have a negative impact on their business
Aidan Gough, Strategy and Policy Director at InterTradeIreland said “A buoyant economy should not distract from the need to confront and prepare for challenges that lie ahead especially in terms of dealing with rising costs, skills shortages and potential changes to trading relationships. Our latest Business Monitor shows that over 70 percent of businesses are operating on very tight margins (below 10%) and therefore carry a high exposure to rising costs.”
InterTradeIreland is currently running a series of major conferences ‘All facts: no noise. Practical help to navigate Brexit’. The most recent event in Belfast was attended by nearly 400 delegates wanting to find out more about how to get prepared for Brexit. The next event is in Croke Park, Dublin on 5th December. InterTradeIreland’s Brexit Advisory Service offers bespoke help and assistance for SMEs, including a £/€2,000 Brexit Start Planning Voucher, which allows individual firms to work with an approved panel of experts to devise a tailored action plan.
“While we encourage businesses to concentrate on the day job and operational effectiveness we also are advising companies to use this time strategically to look at the possible impacts of Brexit. By asking relevant questions and working through different scenarios, businesses who have proved resilient in the past, will discover new solutions and opportunities in the challenges that lie ahead. An online Brexit planning tool which is available on our website will help SMEs begin the process to begin to plan, act and engage for the optimal Brexit outcome for their business.
“With a healthy ambition to grow reported by 51 per cent of firms across the island; we are encouraging SMEs to plan, act and engage in preparation for Brexit as this is the key to stability and success in the future,” Aidan added.
A copy of the 2017 Q3 InterTradeIreland Business Monitor Executive Summary can be viewed at: http://www.intertradeireland.com/researchandpublications/business_monitor/